Two perennial FCS playoff teams are headed to the FBS, joining James Madison as the third FCS team in a day to move up. Conference USA officially announced the additions of Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State along with FBS independents Liberty and New Mexico State.
Both teams will join C-USA starting with the 2023-24 academic year. Jacksonville State was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference until 2020 when they left for the ASUN. The football team plays in the AQ7 comprised of WAC and ASUN teams this year, a conference which includes Sam Houston State. Jacksonville State will spend one football season in the ASUN before moving up to the FBS in a two-year process.
Sam Houston State was a member of the Southland Conference until 2020 when they left for the WAC. Like Jacksonville State, they are part of the AQ7 for this year’s football season. SHSU will compete in the WAC’s 2022 season before leaving for C-USA in 2023.
Both programs were mainstays in the FCS Playoffs the last decade. JSU has made 7 FCS playoff appearances since 2010 including a 2015 title game in which they lost 37-10 to North Dakota State. Sam Houston State has made 8 FCS playoffs since 2010 with three title game appearances. They won 2020’s spring title over South Dakota State and lost back-to-back title games against NDSU in 2011 and 2012. SHSU made it to the semifinals or further in 6 of the 8 FCS playoffs since 2011.
It won’t be long until we see how FCS conferences react to the recent realignment changes.
Photo courtesy of The Huntsville Item.